THE AMERICAN TRAVELER
HISTORY OF " THE FIGHTING FIRST "
Although the First Division comprises some of the oldest units in the American [torn page] the Division itself was not forced [torn page] 1917 in France. Historically, the [torn page] organization is Battery D, of the [torn page] battalion. Battery D was the entire army shortly after the Revolution; the rest of the Continental Army had been disbanded by a penurious Congress because of the expenses of maintenance. Battery D was organized by Alexander Hamilton in 1776 and fought in the Battle of Long Island.
During the first world war, the Division was the first U.S Army division to land in France, the first to suffer casualties, and the first to take prisoners. It participated in the Battle of Cantigny, the first full-scale American offensive, and later in the campaigns of Picardy, Montdidier-Noyons, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse, Argonne, Lorraine, Soisons, and the Argonne. The 26th Infantry was the first American infantry regiment to enter Germany (on 1 Dec 1918) as part of the army occupation.
In the present war, advance elements sailed for England on 1 July 1942 and the entire Division was overseas and garrisoned in England by 9 August 1942. The Division had been picked as one of the assaulting forces for the invasion of North Africa and the capture of Oran. Amphibious training for the invasions was conducted in Scotland during September and October. On 8 November 1942 the Division landed two forces on either side of Oran; the 16th and 18th Infantry in the vicinity of Les Andalouses. After the fall of Oran, the Division was committed piece-meal in the long and confused advance across Algeria and Tunisia; units of the Division operating under various commands participated in the battles of Tebourba, Medjz-el-Bab, and Longstop Hill. During the operation in the Ouseeltia Valley, which began 20 January 1943, the Division made its only withdrawal of the war, a move which was dictated by a German breakthrough in another part of the line rather than by enemy pressure. This breakthrough was
ter-attack to hold the Pass and was successful in driving the Germans back and inflicting heavy losses. After relief by the 9th U.S. Infantry Division on 27 February, the Division reorganized, attacked, and took Gafsa after a spectacular 40-mile motor march. During subsequent operations in the vicinity of now-famous El Guettar, the Division withstood and drove back four full-scale tank and infantry attacks by the German 10th Panzer Division. Later the Division moved North in the vicinity of Beja and engaged in the bitter operations which finally resulted in the fall of Matuer. During these battles the Division was opposed by the famous German "Barenthin" regiment. On 7 May, the day that Tunis fell, the Division was relieved.
Preparations for the invasion of Sicily were made in the vicinity of Oran, and on 10 July the Division attacked the beaches of Gela. Gela was quickly taken, but the enemy made a strong, coordinated counter-attack during which their tanks approached to within 1,000 yards of the beach. The Division stood its ground, and on the following day the advance continued. On 1 August, Troina was captured after savage fighting. During the battle the 16th Infantry repulsed sever counter-attacks, the 18th, one, and the 16th, thirteen. The Division was relieved about the middle of August and reorganized at Palma Di Montechiaro. On 23 October the Division sailed for England, arriving 5 November.
Soon after the Division's arrival in England, Division Headquarters began blocking out plans for the invasion of France. Preparations included intensive training in assault tactics, street fighting, river crossings, reduction of pillboxes and strong points and amphibious landings. On 6 June 1944 the Divisions struck at the beaches near Colleville-Sur-Mer in the face of intensive small-arms fire and mortar and artillery concentrations laid down by a full strength German division which had moved into the area two days before for anti-invasion maneuvers. After a temporary [end of page cut off]